By on August 14, 2020

best led headlights

It happens from time to time, even to people who spend their days gazing at the long, shapely flanks of the world’s most dazzling crossovers. Sometimes other vehicle types, too.

Often, there’s just too much rolling stock out there. Too many models that hit the scene, only to be quickly forgotten amid the constant deluge of new metal, new fascias, new nameplates. Driving along in heavy traffic, pulling up to a light, or even just standing there, watching cars pass, you sometimes come across a vehicle whose identity flummoxes you. The brain draws a blank.

I should know what that is, your mind says, but what the hell is it?

As a feeling of shame washes over you, the grey matter suddenly flies into gear. The mental cogs start grinding. Memory banks are are combed through, with the first obvious clues punched in like a keyword search. The badge, if you can see it. The recognition of a certain shape or design feature indicative of a certain brand. Usually, this, plus a moment or two, is all anyone needs to hit the right answer.

Only very rarely does the brain go so far offline that a name must be sought out on the exterior of a vehicle, assuming the subject’s not speeding past.

Such a moment happened last night as yours truly sat at a light. Or was it in a freeway backup? Driving becomes a blur sometimes, but this vehicle arrested my thoughts in a hurry. Nice sedan, I thought. Or is it a liftback? It looks kind of like a Civic, but it… isn’t. Acura? Nope. Hold on, what’s going on here?

What makes this bout of mental confusion over a compact passenger car so memorable is that it wasn’t the first time. This particular model has played the same jarring head game with your author before — perhaps eight months ago, maybe more.

It was a Honda Insight.

Blame a lack of local sales and a general media blackout for the model’s continued unfamiliarity. The mildly upscale hybrid surprised us all when Honda resurrected it for the 2019 model year, but its existence was soon overshadowed by more memorable models from other brands. Few people talk about it, and I can’t even recall the last time I saw someone mention it on Twitter. American Honda sold 8,886 Insights through July, versus 153,046 Civics.

I see considerably more Tesla Model 3s roaming the roads up here.

Your turn, B&B. What model recently turned your brain into a land of confusion?

[Image: Honda]

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44 Comments on “QOTD: Haven’t I Seen You Somewhere Before?...”


  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    Funny you mention the Insight which I see somewhat regularly in the Va suburbs of DC. Because every time I seem to see one it’s in the morning or evening when people are turning their lights on and in those conditions the top clear/grayish of the taillights isn’t visible and with the lights on I keep thinking it’s a newer Maxima.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      Funny you and Steph mention the Insight because I too was puzzled by one just a week ago . . . Or maybe it was the Clarity? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I can tell what it is if the front’s visible, because the damned hood cut is what they should have done on the Accord.

      Even into the mid-Aughts, I was just about able to pick out any make and model, and up through the mid-‘90s, I probably stood a reasonable shot at guessing the year!

      Now, heaven only knows! Being a self-confessed Honda fanboi, I can usually pick them out, and I can pick some other makes, like Toyotas, Nissans, HyundKias, and probably the former Big 3. But specific models, especially the anonymous, androgynous CUVs?! Fughettabouit!!

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    In that pic it looks somewhat Infinitish-

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Just yesterday I pulled into a parking lot and caught a glimpse of a rear end of a sports coupe I hadn’t seen before. It was low slung and very exotic looking. When I got closer I realized it was a Lexus LC500. Wow, very impressive :)

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      With a base price in the $93k-$97K range it’s moving towards exotic territory.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I have had unbridled lust for the LC500 since the moment I first clapped eyes on it at an auto show. And as good as it looks, it sounds even better – the engine note is GLORIOUS.

      Most tests I’ve read of the LC500 knock it for not being as fast as its’ looks and pricetag would suggest. I don’t care. It’s plenty fast, and it’s fabulous. Like I said…unbridled lust.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      Funny, I saw an LC500 yesterday too, on the way back from a short trip to the beach. The only other one I have seen was on a beach trip a year ago, in another state.

      It’s a gorgeous car, but at that price, I start to think of all of the other cars one could get instead.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        We talking grand tourers, or something like a ‘Vette or 911? If it’s something like the latter, I’m sure either would put an LC500 on the trailer, but that’s not the point of a car like the LC; besides, you see yourself coming and going in a 911 or ‘Vette. Comparable touring coupes? You’re going to drop about fifty grand more on the S-class Benz coupe, and the 8-series BMW doesn’t do very much for me (it looks like the world’s most expensive Mustang, frankly).

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      I was the opposite, caught sight of a nice sleek but modern looking sports car sat in traffic. “Nice Lexus” I thought as the car in front of it pulled away revealing its Aston Martin grille and badge…

  • avatar
    whynot

    In the rare chance that I see either I still am never immediately sure which vehicle is the Insight and which is the Clarity.

    They are just two Honda Hybrids launched at similar times with similar fanfare (i.e. none).

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Infiniti “Q” naming scheme was difficult for me to keep track of. I didn’t get a good handle on it until they dropped a few models.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The new Chevy/GM Trailblazer/whatever. I just can’t identify them until I can read the badge.

    A twist on the theme: Even as a Kia partisan, I can’t always distinguish certain models as they approach. The tiger nose grille on the Forte/Optima/Cadenza/K900/Stinger looks very similar at a distance.

    Sometimes family resemblances can go too far.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I have trouble with BMW 3 series from the back. The newer ones look so generic.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Recently saw a 1st gen RAV4. With overall shape, logo-less spare cover and large swaths of dark body cladding it had me puzzled. Thought it was a Suzuki Sidekick, early Suzuki or 1st gen Honda Passport. Usually I am pretty good with pre 2000 cars. After about 2000, either because my lack of interest or the increasingly generic look of modern vehicles, I many times cannot tell one car from another just by a brief glance.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Sad to say, it was a Jaguar XF. One pulled up to a stoplight while I was walking one day, and I had no idea who made it until I saw the “Jaguar” tag.

    And that, friends, tells you why Jaguar is bombing.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Hate to admit it but I do agree. There is very little distinctive ‘Jaguarish’ style element anymore. Just another expensive vehicle. And one that is likely to have greater depreciation and more reliability issues than much of its competition.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Jaguar’s generic styling direction is heartbreaking. I make enough now that I could buy a decently equipped new one, but the desire is gone.

      It’s annoying that they are fine doing a “retro” look on the new Defender, but making a Jaguar with any styling nod to the past is verboten because the Top Gear guys didn’t like the S-Type.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I kind of like the XE. They redid the interior for this year, and it’s a definite improvement, but I still don’t see why I wouldn’t buy a loaded-up G70 with the six for the same money (or save quite a bit and go with a Stinger).

        But the XF is just…sad. Meh styling, meh interior, meh quality, and a turbo for for sixty grand. Who are they trying to kid here? And the compact SUV (the whatever-Pace) is beyond silly…cloth seats for $40,000? Yeah, right. Buy a loaded Escape or Equinox with the bigger engine and be done for five grand less.

        It’s REALLY sad. I hope for their sake the electric XJ they’re coming out with knocks it out of the park.

  • avatar
    snorlax

    I never had trouble identifying it, but whenever a Hyundai Tiburon appeared in my peripheral vision I had to crane my neck to find out what six-figure exotic was approaching.

    To answer the question, I recently confused an XV20-gen Camry (blah) for a second-gen Acura Legend (mildly interesting), although I realized my error when I saw the Toyota badge.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Insight and Civic share some stuff so their shape is similar

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I suggest new section – ICBISI, or, I can’t believe I saw it. Something similar to Junkyard Find, but on the road and during regular drive. And people can submit the pictures they snap in traffic, to prove.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I still have a 3 seconds of “subaru moment” when I see new Highlander front

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Any Lexus from the front is a riddle

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Not actually recently, but back in the late ’80’s or so, I saw a not too distinctive looking sedan, and I went through the entire listing of possible common cars in my head without getting a hit. So I started going through exotic car manufacturers, and then I got it – a Maserati BiTurbo!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    When you see a vehicle you don’t immediately recognize, savor that moment and explore how it feels – because this is the way that many many humans on planet Earth view automobiles.

    (In the same way that some people might see ‘Jimmy Choos’ where I see ‘heels’.)

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      It’s a lot like seeing the silhouette of a wild animal. In my yard it’s usually a racoon or opossum, but once in awhile I get a glimpse of something decidedly rare. It’s almost instinctual to try and figure out what this strange creature wandering through your yard is

  • avatar
    JMII

    I rarely get fooled by a car but there are certain models which just all blend together. For example some Porsches (911s in particular) and Camrys. The differences between various years and trims escapes me.

    The Maserati Ghibli always requires a second look because it is actually very generic – its like a cross between a Kia Stinger and a Tesla S.

    I know I’ll take a beat down for this but… many older muscle cars look the same to me. I can’t tell the difference between a Nova and a Chevelle. My excuse here they were before my time (I went to high school in the 80s) so I never experienced them as new cars. So there is an entire decade of cars in the 70s that are all just generic boxes to me.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Two in the past week:

    Chevy Trailblazer. Looked surprisingly good for such a little thing. The one I saw was red. Magnitudes better than Trax on styling alone. I think this is the modern-day Cavalier

    This one really got me – the new BMW 2 Grand Coupe. I saw a white one parked from the rear and had no idea which BMW it was. I thought it was an X4, the ass is so fat! Absolutely hideous, and a landscaper working in the lot I was in agreed.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    About a week ago I confused a 2010ish Tucson for the post update Envision. Then again they were puttering on the freeway, and I was closing fast, so I was more concerned with getting the muck outta dodge and wasn’t really focusing too hard.

    I won’t pull the line that, “they all look the same,” but it was a momentary lapse.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Caught a black fastback flying by, thought the rear end looked very Mercedes like, but it was a 4/5 door. Turned out to be a Vauxhall Insignia (aka Buick Regal). The rear looked very like an E class coupe – slim lights, round silver badge, it even had the fake exhaust pipes in the bumper.

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